Air a’ Cheathramh Latha de dh’August – en

Western Isles

22 June 2016

Composed by: Murdo Graham (Am Beag)
Researched & performed by: Isabelle Bain

This song was composed by Murdo Graham (Am Beag) who was from Back but lived in Gress. He was born in 1898. He was a soldier in the Gordon Highlanders and was injured in the trenches in the First World War. He was lame for the rest of his life. At the time of the First World War Gress was part of a farm and there was no village there. When the soldiers returned from the war they wanted land where they could settle down with their families. Murdo was one of the raiders who fought for land on this farm to make homes for themselves after the war. They succeeded and that’s how Gress was established as the village we know today. Murdo passed away in July 1973.


On the fourth of August
We were in fine fettle in Fraserburgh;
It was on the Sabbath
That we got worrying news,
That the Navy was being mustered
And being called up very soon;
Many an eye was tearful
When their young men were taken from them.

We left in October
To sail to France,
And we all went aboard her,
A big three-masted ship;
When we reached the place
Where the Gaels were gathered,
We had to say our farewells
And head for the trenches.

I cannot express to you
The hardship of the trenches,
Up to your knees
In water and mud:
The only sleep we could get
Was broken and fitful each time;
If we had been at home
How soundly we would have slept.

I will tell you of the young heroes
Who fell in that struggle:
There was Donald MacLean
And gentle Donald MacKenzie,
There was Alasdair MacAskill
And kind Donald MacKay;
And some of them are in “Ypres”
Buried under the sod.

When I go to the shore
And I am there by myself
It is of you I think,
You who are closest to my heart;
But my thoughts are no use
For you are in eternal rest without end;
I will never see you again
For you are buried in the fields.

But I will now make a resolution
With the sincere wishes of my heart,
My hope is that
Those who are left alive of them will return home;
But those who were killed
In France, they will never return,
And they will not be buried
In Gress beneath the smooth sand.

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